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May 2022

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Taos Ski Valley Foundation Grants Nature Conservancy Water Fund

The Taos Ski Valley Foundation (TSVF) announced a $125,000 grant for The Nature Conservancy-led Rio Grande Water Fund (RGWF) on March 22, 2022. The RGWF is designed to restore 600,000 acres of forest across northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to reduce wildfire risk and protect water for one million people. TSVF has been a pivotal partner since the effort launched in 2014.


The new funding will bolster more controlled burning—the practice of deliberately setting and carefully managing fires under strict conditions. A centuries-old tradition, the resurgent practice is used to protect and restore forests by reducing the dense, overgrown understory that fuels wildfires, germinating critical new growth, and promoting thriving indigenous plants and wildlife. This ensures a diverse and resilient ecosystem. Funding will also support inclusivity and increase capacity within the Rio Grande Water Fund’s work.


Waconda will lead the effort to facilitate learning exchanges with two new or existing tribal communities in New Mexico who are part of the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network, a collaborative effort designed to support cultural burning. Additionally, workshops will be held to educate fire practitioners on prescribed fire liability, burner certification, and training to increase capacity to get more work done on the ground.

“Indigenous Peoples have been putting fire on the ground since the beginning of time, however, that right was taken away by European settlers,” says John Waconda, Indigenous Peoples Partnership Program Director. “Now we’ve seen a shift to revitalize controlled burning because it helps build community and forest resilience.”


“Rising temperatures, severe drought, and catastrophic fire events across the entire southwest make proactive projects of the Rio Grande Water Fund more necessary than ever,” said Louis Bacon, owner of Taos Ski Valley and founder of Taos Ski Valley Foundation. “Preventing and mitigating fires is the highest conservation priority. We commend Nature Conservancy New Mexico and the Rio Grande Water Fund public and private partners on their collaboration to address these challenges.”


“We’re grateful to Taos Ski Valley Foundation for its ongoing and generous support. Contributions have helped us triple our annual thinning average, prevented four severe fires, supported hundreds of jobs, and provided tens of millions of dollars in economic outputs,” said Terry Sullivan, The Nature Conservancy’s state director for New Mexico.


The Taos Ski Valley Foundation supports conservation nonprofits that focus on protecting threatened landscapes, habitats, wildlife, and waterways.


With 100 signatories, an increasing number of people see the value in restoring our forests in the face of climate change.


About the Nature Conservancy New Mexico: The Nature Conservancy has been working in New Mexico for almost four decades. Guided by science, we have permanently protected 1.5 million acres, secured voluntary land conservation easements on more than half a million acres and improved land and water management on an additional 18 million acres. We create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together.


About the Taos Ski Valley Foundation: The Taos Ski Valley Foundation, an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, founded by Louis Bacon in 1992, supports conservation nonprofits that focus on protecting threatened landscapes, habitats, wildlife, and waterways. The Taos Ski Valley Foundation also supports educational and community programs in the region.